Howard Head; Hero or Villian?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by fortun8son, May 15, 2011.

  1. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    Once upon a time, all racquets were small, heavy and headlight.
    Along comes Head with the idea that racquets should be light and headheavy.
    Revolutionized the industry. Brought millions of marginal players into The Sport of the Rich! OMG!
    I looked at the pj sticky and IMHO johncauthen may have been a conspiracy theorist, or he may have been robbed.
    Things have changed since 2005. The swing is back to heavy, headlight.
    Hmm. Did they have John killed?
     
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  2. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

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    The Pure Drive frames were, at one point, considered game improvement frames due to their wide beams and larger head sizes (larger than the mids and midpluses of the time). Then more and more pros started using them. Now the Aeropro Drive is considered a players racquet.
     
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  3. Carolina Racquet

    Carolina Racquet Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure Howard Head deserves the credit for light, head heavy frames. From what I remember, doesn't Wilson for bringing us the "Sledgehammer" back in the early 90s? Prior to that, maybe they ruined tennis with the stiff wide-framed "Profile" racquet in the 80s?

    H. Head deserves the credit for the oversize frame which changed the game and spawned the evolution to the 100' frame as being the standard for most players.

    For that, I'd call him a hero and a visionary.
     
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  4. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    Not only did Howard Head introduce the OS racket (by the way a 95 would have been considered an OS back in the day) but he was also one of the pioneers of using materials other than wood (aluminum, graphite) for skis and tennis rackets.
     
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  5. TheOneHander

    TheOneHander Professional

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    I'd agree with everything except for the last sentence, unless you were being sarcastic. It is hard to detect sarcasm over the Internet. Either way, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who'll tell you that the APD/C/GT is a player's frame.
     
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  6. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat Legend

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    Howard Head invented the Oversize tennis racquet and the Aluminum sandwich ski. Not a light head heavy racquet. The early Prince Oversize racquets were still pretty heavy by today's standard and head light.

    Wilson was famous for making popular the light head heavy racquet with the line of racquets called Hammer in 1990.
     
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  7. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

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    I don't disagree: by traditional terms, a player's racquet is flexy, low powered, thin beamed, with a smaller head size. However, the Aeropro Drive is incredibly popular on the tour.

    I think there is a major shift going on regarding what will be considered a player's racquet.

    Ultimately, shouldn't we define what a player's racquet is by what the pros are using?

    Think of all the Pure Drives, AeroPro Drives, EXO3 Blacks, Instincts, Extremes, just to name a few.
     
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  8. TheOneHander

    TheOneHander Professional

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    I disagree, there is not a shift in definition of a players' frame. Perhaps later, but not now. I'd like to see someone else on this board who believes that a Pure Drive is a players' stick.

    The answer to your question is no. Professionals use what they like to use and what they grew up with. Babolat began infiltrating the market by targeting juniors, so the younger pros demonstrate a propensity towards those kinds of racquets. However, older pros who grew up with more stereotypical players' frames will naturally use the racquets that they grew up with.

    Furthermore, imagine what defining an APDC as a players' frame would do to the racquet industry. There would have to be a total redefinition of players', tweeners, and game improvement racquets. Some of the racquet purists would be in an uproar over the change in nomenclature as well, and sales of true players' frames would plummet

    Overall, the category in to which a racquet is put is not defined by who plays with it, but rather by the way it plays.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
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  9. Spin-A-Lot

    Spin-A-Lot Rookie

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    +1 to that..and besides, the racquets pros use are more or less heavily modified or customized to their liking so the chances of a pro's stick being anything like the commercially available one would be slim to none...
     
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  10. gpt

    gpt Professional

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    Head was a visionary not a villain.
    Unlike the ITF who had no racquet restrictions in the rules before Heads innovation.
    It was too late to shut the gate after ten's of thousands of Prince racquets were sold.
     
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  11. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

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    I disagree, not with the fact that certain racquets play a certain way, but with the overall nomenclature. I understand what it is that you are referring to as a "player's racquet." But what we need to realize is that there is and will be elements of the game that evolve. The "player's sticks" that are on the market now are larger than racquets in the same category decades earlier.

    For years, the Babolats were considered game improvement sticks, and later, tweeners. I do know the story of Babolat's success with putting racquets in the hands of juniors. And as you mentioned, players tend to play with racquets similar to what they grew up with (in total agreement here). Now that many pros are playing with, and making popular, these kinds of frames, the categorization needs to catch up or the nomenclature should change. "Player's Racquet" might not be the best phrase anymore.

    Also, many pros are playing with racquets that appeal to a wider audience (with a larger range of ability).

    Believe me, I see and understand your argument. I just think that things are changing.
     
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  12. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

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    double post
     
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  13. pheonix6579

    pheonix6579 Semi-Pro

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    +1
    I totally agree
     
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  14. TheOneHander

    TheOneHander Professional

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    So is the term "players' racquet" inappropriate for frames such as Prestiges and Tour 90s, or is it appropriate for APDCs and other such frames?

    I'm genuinely curious about this, not trying to begin a heated debate. I just think your stance is interesting.
     
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  15. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

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    I think it is an interesting debate, and I appreciate your politeness. I think debates like these can turn pretty ugly, but as long as we continue to show each other respect, we might stumble upon some good ideas.

    I think the term is going to have to be more inclusive, if we continue to use it. Therefore, the Prestiges, and Tours, and Rebels, etc will continue to be "player's frames" since players are still using them. However, I think we will need to include the other popular frames that don't traditionally fit the mold (ie the Babolat Drive racquets, the Prince Blacks, etc) since they are becoming the norm on tour (obviously, they're not for everyone, but you can't deny their popularity).

    I think that though the Prestige's/Tours/Rebels will continue to be called "player's frames," we will need to perhaps include a sub-category to differentiate the thinner beam/smaller head frames. I don't know what that category might be called (precision frames, perhaps), but I'm sure someone will come up with something.
     
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  16. TheOneHander

    TheOneHander Professional

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    Consider the good idea found! If the term "pros' frame" or something was used to denote a group of frames that could be used at the professional level, that would encompass tweeners and players' sticks. Then game improvement could be left alone, because those are hardly ever seen at the pro level. Then, that general term could be broken down into two subcategories.

    Granted, it's making nomenclature a bit more difficult than saying "pros can use tweeners and players' frames alike, and the racquet they choose is a product of what was popular when they were younger", but it works.
     
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  17. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    Ah! So it was Wilson that deserves the credit/blame? My mistake. I thought they were bandwagon-jumpers. It's hard to find an accurate timeline for frame introduction and production runs.
     
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  18. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    It helps if you remember a Wilson BLX Six.One Tour is a total snowshoe rocket launcher if you compare it to, say, an original MAX200G

    Perspective is everything, and a lot of posters remind me of the Amish in their tendency to choose a moment in history in which they believe the technology is 'appropriate' and reject all others.

    Nobody is 'the culprit' here, time passes and the game moves on, that's all.
     
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  19. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

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    Right on. I think that's the direction we have to move in if we continue to use the term "player's racquet."
     
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  20. Agent Orynge

    Agent Orynge Professional

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    'Players racquets' are trending towards 'purists racquets,' if you ask me. I've also advocated the inclusion of a category that fits between 'tweeners and players racquets, what I call 'players-light' frames, or PL for short. PL racquets have similar headsizes, beam widths, and stiffnesses as regular players frames, but generally range between 11 and 12 ounces, rather than 12+, and are moderately head light. 'Tweeners, on the other hand, still fit snugly between 10 and 11 ounces, are very close to even balance, and have characteristics that could be better attributed to game improvement racquets.

    Whichever way you look at it, Babolat has forced a paradigm shift of sorts. 100 square inches is the new mid plus, and it might not be too much longer before traditional mids have gone the way of the dodo, leaving our 95s to fill their wake.
     
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  21. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    Huge hero. He was the one who introduced frames that help non-pros play better.
     
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  22. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    How did this affect the country club elitists? Was there a backlash?
    The US Tennis Hall of Fame is in Newport, RI after all. Summer playground of the Astors and Vanderbilts.
    Or did Johnny Mac and Yvonne Goolagong blow that all away and make it a relic of the past?
    Tennis anyone?
    Maybe they loved it. "This racquet makes it sooo much easier to get it over the net. Don't you think, Muffy Darling?"
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
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  23. tailofdog

    tailofdog Semi-Pro

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    Weed

    I do know that it was always a race between Tad Weed (WEED TENNIS RACQUETS) and Howard Head for the first Oversize. I have been told the story befoe that Tad Weed only was beat out by Howard Head because of lack of finance. Having said this i can't remember all the details. Perhaps someone else has the full story?
     
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  24. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    The first Prince racquet had the reputation of being an old lady's frame; hit and giggle. Trampoline effect problem. The Prince Pro looked more masculine; all black. This frame started to infiltrate the better players.
     
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